We've been back in Cleveland now for a year. You can tell just by the title of this post that I consider it a move "from" instead of a move "to." By extension, you can probably gauge what my feelings about that move are.
To recap, a visit to Cleveland in July of last year, for the Give Kids The World fundraiser at Cedar Point, led to a strange bout of nostalgia. We felt socially engaged in a way we had not in awhile. In only a few weeks, we some how talked ourselves into believing that there were two really good reasons to move back. The first was the obvious financial gains, with only one home to pay for. Then there was the idea that we would be back in our circle of friends.
So how did all of that work out? The financial bits went almost exactly as planned. When you erase almost $30k in annual housing expenses, duh, you're going to have a very different outlook with money. Having to use a lot of savings for a new car downpayment, after our Christmas Eve accident, was not an expected expense, but it wasn't bank crushing. Also unexpected, after it "didn't work out" with the company I moved to work for, I quickly discovered that I didn't have to settle for a lower salary. I was able to find a gig that matched the pre-stock-cash shift Microsoft level. All things considered, the financial prospects worked out.
The social wins ended up being less robust. Frankly our connections did not ramp up the way we expected. For me specifically, it seems like everything socially relevant for me was centered on Cedar Point. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most of our best times have been at or near the park this year. While that's fantastic, it hardly constitutes a majority of our time.
At the time we moved, we also viewed Cleveland as an interim step, to stay there long enough to get the house to a sellable place, in a market where it could indeed by sold, and then move on to a warmer place. A great concern has sprouted up since then, namely that Florida schools tend to suck. While I very much enjoy Central Florida, I think it's probably off of the table.
Which brings us back to Seattle, in some ways quite literally. As much as I say that Cleveland sucks or that I "hate" it there, I'm probably not being very fair to Cleveland. It's not that it's a terrible place, but rather that we're just done with it. I spent so much of my life in and near that city, and there isn't enough there to challenge me professionally or socially.
In fact, the issues with our move are less about Cleveland and more about Seattle. As it turns out, the fresh air and mountain views are a pretty big deal. Our parent group is awesome. The schools are fantastic. Simon's closest cousins are there. Important friendships are too. The professional vibe is entirely different, where even the stay-at-home moms in our group lead you to interesting technology discussions. There are so many wonderful places to go. We just didn't realize the magnitude of what we were leaving.
The conclusions about whether or not the move was the right decision are complicated. As our savings grow, there's no denying that the financial benefits are enormous. The professional score card is ambiguous at best. The social scene seems to lean surprisingly back to Seattle. Then there are the little things, like living in a neighborhood with a lot of playgrounds, wide paths and a local watering hole to frequent.
I suppose the hardest thing to own up to is that maybe we got it totally wrong. It's hard to admit, "Shit, I tried the 'grass is greener' thing and got it wrong." No one wants to admit that they pursued a life changing decision and was wrong.
What does it all mean? It's hard to say. For me, I could probably be relatively content living anywhere if I landed the best job ever. I don't think I'm in that job at the moment. The biggest change is that I tend to view decisions more from the perspective of how they affect Diana and Simon, which sounds awesomely selfless, but in practice might be self-destructive to some degree. I guess what it really means is that I have to think a lot harder about what our next move really involves.